The Trinamool Congress seems to be using the old ways again. In the past, it was the Left Front government who would seldom engage in sideswipes against the paramilitary forces controlled by the Union government. Now it’s the TMC who is locked in a tirade against the Border Security Force (BSF). It seems that the TMC is continuing the left’s political legacy as far as dealing with the Union government and its various agencies are concerned. Many may call it a minor skirmish but it is a sensitive part of the complex relationship between different parties ruling the Union and a state within the Indian federal structure. TMC MLA Udayan Guha, son of former Forward Bloc (FB) minister, and veteran North Bengal leader Kamal Guha has emerged as the spearhead of the party’s sustained anti-BSF campaign. Interestingly, Udayan was a Forward Bloc MLA earlier and has a reputation for adopting strong-arm political tactics in North Bengal.
The question now is that why the TMC, with hardly anything in common between it and the FB, seems to have fallen in line with what happens to be an old political tactic of the Left. The objective of the FB and the TMC, ironically are identical. While the FB pursued such a line to protect its minority vote bank, the TMC is also playing vote bank politics in addressing the same constituency among voters. On the other hand, under Jyoti Basu as Bengal chief minister and Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee after him, for all, their political and other differences, the army top brass and local heads of paramilitary forces usually had a good working relationship with the state administration. For instance, some years ago, a contingent of Maharashtra policemen was escorting almost 20 alleged illegal migrants. They were being taken to the Indo-Bangla border for a planned handover to Bangladesh authorities. But after the train had entered Bengal, south Bengal FB leader, and MLA Robin Ghosh, overpowered the outstation police party and whisked away from the immigrants. Even after the incident was disruptive, neither the then Congress-ruled union government nor the then ruling Left Front made much of it.
No wonder the frustration among Congressmen over the official refusal to weed out thousands of ‘false’ voters from the Bengal electoral lists despite years of hard work, boiled over. The explosion of their anger eventually found expression in the Lok Sabha. Mamata Banerjee as a new MP called for an immediate end to the enrolling of false voters by the ruling Left front. On being refused permission to speak, she hurled her shawls at the house speaker and walked out of the house during a dramatic incident. Meanwhile, with the NDA government assuming power and introducing legislation like the CAA, things have changed substantially. Concerning law enforcement authorities currently ask for all manner of official corroborative documents and other material as proof of one’s citizenship for securing the PAN card or buying mobile phones, to open bank accounts, or to register as an applicant in official welfare schemes in Bengal or elsewhere. Naturally, a section of Muslims, especially those poorer, have to face much harassment. Incidentally the same is true of the poorer Bengali Hindus, whether in Assam or elsewhere in the Northeast. There are many instances of excesses committed by overzealous officials.